Something seems slightly wrong with the design of the posting page. October 25, 2011 1:11 PM   Subscribe

Something seems slightly wrong with the design of the posting page.

Even experienced posters commonly make posts that don't make sense unless you can see the Post Title contents, which of course is something you don't display on the front page. There are examples on the front page right now. There probably always are examples on the front page.

Other posters just make the Post Title and Link Text fields essentially the same. It's a post about dancing monkeys, so they put Dancing Monkeys! in both fields, and then you see Dancing Monkeys! twice on the comments page.

Could you do something like make one field called Post Title (to appear on the front page and the comments page), turn it into a link if the poster supplies a link in Link URL, and make everything else happen in the Description box?
posted by pracowity to MetaFilter-Related at 1:11 PM (12 comments total)

The assuming-title-will-appear-on-the-front-page thing is something we've tried to tweak people away from (particularly on Ask, since that's where it tends to be more of an actual problem rather than just a slightly cryptic-making thing sometimes on the blue).

The title-same-as-lede-text thing isn't really a problem so much as a style thing; some folks like to offset their title from their main text on the post, some people prefer to have them be the same, and that's not something we really have an opinion on one way or the other from a policy perspective and not something that seems to need fixing.

One thing we've learned from tweaking the Ask posting page in particular is that we can maybe get people to muck it up less often but we can't actually prevent people from mucking it up entirely. Over a large enough userbase and a large enough body of posts, we're going to have people getting it wrong even when the page plainly states what will and won't appear, for example.

So personally I'm not immediately excited about trying to change the long-standing behavior of the posting page to try and induce a change by making some sort of slightly more complicated if/then auto-linking logic thing happen. I'm doubtful it would prevent the occasional mistake, I'm certain it will generate some confusion for established users, and having the site make assumptions about which of two optional presentations you were going for seems like opening up a new can of worms.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:21 PM on October 25, 2011


Could you do something like make one field called Post Title (to appear on the front page and the comments page), turn it into a link if the poster supplies a link in Link URL, and make everything else happen in the Description box?

People do use different text in the Link Text and Post Title fields more often than not. So far this month, we've had 249 posts that used the Link field, and of those 18 had duplicate link text and title. So I don't think we can just make a blanket change and say both should be the same from now on.

I do think that having a separate Link and Description fields feels a bit old fashioned these days, but we don't require people to use the link fields at all. You can simply type your post in the Description area and incude any links there. Removing the Link fields might clear up some confusion, but it also serves as a reminder that posts should have links.
posted by pb (staff) at 1:29 PM on October 25, 2011


I'll often attempt some pseudo-erudite allusion in the post title, but recall someone saying it's what you see first via RSS, so probably not as clever as I'd hope.
posted by Abiezer at 1:44 PM on October 25, 2011


Both MetaTalk and AskMe have the Post Title as one of the bottom fields on the page. I would imagine this prevents the natural tendency to view the main post as a continuation of the title.

It seems like it would be worthwhile to re-arrange the post page on MetaFilter to match the other two.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:46 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


It was confusing (at first) to me because the fields aren't in the order in which you see them once they post. The Headline/Title should be towards the top of the posting page, not at the bottom. But I got used to it.
posted by NoraCharles at 1:52 PM on October 25, 2011


The Headline/Title should be towards the top of the posting page, not at the bottom.

No, because then people will write their posts assuming that readers will see it. Usually readers don't see the title until maybe after they've read the description.
posted by grouse at 2:08 PM on October 25, 2011


The Headline/Title should be towards the top of the posting page, not at the bottom.

This was an early concession that we made to people continuously putting the question in the title field. They do it less now but still do it. Sometimes people put the title in the tags box. I honestly can not figure out how people do this sometimes. We've had a lot of backroom discussions about ways to make the posting process smoother without making it more complicated at the same time. Now that most other websites have stepped up their game and made their interfaces cleaner, we may want something that's a little more intuitive, but rearranging things entirely is not something we're likely to look at.

If you look at the new question page on AskMe, I feel that all the text is really clear about what the fields do, but this doesn't mean always that people read the text or that they understand it. Right now we're totally happy just fixing things when people make small errors. I'm not sure we can get to a place where the interface is so obvious that everyone knows how to use it. You should see what we get in the contact form...
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:11 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


How to improve the "tags" section:

Put the frequent tag cloud next to the tags box
-or-
Have tags autosuggest/autocomplete via some jQuery witchery

either of these could adapt based on the post category (for Ask) or a keyword search of the body text, the same way the related links thing works (presumably?)
posted by modernserf at 2:34 PM on October 25, 2011


We've talked about autosuggest tagging in the past and we've felt like that would start to limit the tagging vocabulary quite a bit. In some cases limiting the vocabulary would be very helpful. You'd have more overlap when you're searching, for example. In the past we've felt that keeping things very open with no suggestions and having the poster put in a little more effort is better overall.
posted by pb (staff) at 2:40 PM on October 25, 2011


Here's a recent discussion about suggested tags.
posted by pb (staff) at 2:48 PM on October 25, 2011


When I notice that the post title was clearly intended to be on the front page, I flag with "HTML/display error." I feel like in the past posts have been edited to fix that. Is that rarely done?
posted by Kattullus at 5:35 PM on October 25, 2011


That's totally the right thing to do from our end. It's easy to swoop in and fix stuff like that. Pretty much any glaring typo is okay to flag that way.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:45 PM on October 25, 2011


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